The past week has been a flurry of activity. First came the conference (a delightful yet terrifying affair), then a brief tempest of emotional catharsis and then a long train ride filled with thoughts of Isaiah and Galatians. We arrived in Oxford and spent a few days renewing old friendships and being once again dazzled by the city’s mist and green. I began to remember the former things of old. Like a steady, rushing wind in a temple, I felt life begin to tingle in my fingertips and work its way through my arms and up into my body. Which was I – Pygmalion or Galatea? I could not escape the sense that the very thing for which I was made was also made for me.
It was new, of course; I could not go back to the Oxford I had left. The memories of former things are never ends in themselves; they are vessels in which past, present and future meet in holy union. We eat tear-spotted bread and drink salted wine and we are swallowed by the Life we swallow. The words we utter are scattered and broken, but in the smouldering rubble we are built up again.
I have been dwelling, once again, on the task of the artist (or perhaps it is better to say “the artistic task of humanity”). The primary goal of the artist, I believe, is to see and help others to see. I have written of this in other posts, but I sense the weight of the task more than ever before. To use the simple example of photography, the photographer isolates an aspect of the visible world and focuses in on it. It is, in one sense, exaggeration because it emphasizes one or a few things to the exclusion of other things. However, limited awareness and perspective is part and parcel of being human. We cannot see everything all at once. The end goal (of a skillful artist) is a fuller awareness of the world. We see in part that we may see more fully. A metaphor discloses a thing by partially hiding it.
Our limited perspective is part of what makes human relationships so important. We notice different things. My husband notices sound. I notice words. Together, we help each other to be more aware of sounds, words and the interplay between the two. In the meeting, we become more alive.
To that end of showing and seeing, here is a short poem I’ve been working on. Unfortunately, I can’t format wordpress to give it the proper spacing, so it has all been jumbled together. I have thus put dashes where there should be spaces.
But it could not answer plain: